Top Tips for Buying Bull Bars for your Ute
A bull bar is a piece of manufactured metal designed to protect the front part of your vehicle during a collision. It is meant to minimize panel and engine damage in a crash. These are available in three types of materials – steel, plastic and aluminum.
Installing a bull bar on New Zealand vehicles has been a point of contention for many years. There are significant advantages for getting one for your vehicle. These provide excellent protection in low-speed crashes, preventing panel damage to your ute. For vehicles with sloping contours, the additional height of the bull bar gives the driver a better visual reference for the corners. They provide additional mounting points and support structures for other accessories such as a winch or driving lights. For those who use their ute for weekend offroading trips, bull bars are great for protecting against scrapes and damages.
While there’s definitely good reason to fit a bull bar to your vehicle, New Zealand Transport Agency has some concerns about the effects of after-market add-on bull bars on the effectiveness of airbags and the overall safety in a high-speed crash. Because bull bars are stiff and can concentrate the crash force in a small area of the vehicle, it can be dangerous to pedestrians, motorists, cyclists and other vehicles involved in a crash.
On the legal side of things, bull bars can be fitted on utes (which are classified as Class NA vehicles) as an after-market add-on if, and only if, it does not adversely affect the safety performance of the vehicle. This particularly relates to whether or not it will compromise the original frontal impact performance of your ute.
In this case, ARB protection bars would be your best bet. The ARB summit bull bar, for example, is specifically engineered for each vehicle. No other bull bar can offer the same degree of vehicle integration, protection and functionality.
What other considerations should you make when it comes to choosing the right bull bar for your ute?
- Design – Does it suit the contours of your ute? Aesthetically, is it coloured to match or enhance the look of your vehicle? Powdercoat black is a standard colour for several brands of bull bars. There are those that come in polished aluminum chrome, too. The design should also consider the usage of the vehicle. If an animal strike is common in the areas where you drive, choose a bull bar that protects as much of the vehicle as possible.
- Maintenance – Steel bull bars are often the top choice for both ease of maintenance and material strength. Powdercoat finish can be easily touched up when it begins to rub off or get scraped through normal use. Polished aluminum bull bars, on the other hand, can be re-polished when it stains over time.
- Compatibility – If you’re buying a bull bar and plan to have a winch fitted, make sure the bull bar and the winch are compatible. The same goes with other accessories that you will be fitting directly on the bull bar. Compatibility with your existing airbag system should also be a major one to look at. Manufacturers will state which model bull bars are compatible with your vehicle’s airbags.
As with any accessory purchase, we also recommend looking at product warranties and user reviews.